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With the growth of printing in early modern Germany, crime quickly became a subject of wide public discourse. Sensational crime reports, often featuring multiple murders within families, proliferated as authors probed horrific events for religious meaning. Coinciding with heightened witch panics and economic crisis, the spike in crime fears revealed a continuum between fears of the occult and more mundane dangers.
In Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany, Joy Wiltenburg explores the beginnings of crime sensationalism from the early sixteenth century into the seventeenth century and beyond. Comparing the depictions of crime in popular publications with those in archival records, legal discourse, and imaginative literature, Wiltenburg highlights key social anxieties and analyzes how crime texts worked to shape public perceptions and mentalities. Reports regularly featured familial destruction, flawed economic relations, and the apocalyptic thinking of Protestant clergy. Wiltenburg examines how such literature expressed and shaped cultural attitudes while at the same time reinforcing governmental authority. She also shows how the emotional inflections of crime stories influenced the growth of early modern public discourse, so often conceived in terms of rational exchange of ideas.
Slaves and Free Blacks in Georgia's Criminal Justice System
Criminal Injustice: Slaves and Free Blacks in Georgia’s Criminal Justice System is the most comprehensive study of the criminal justice system of a slave state to date. McNair traces the evolution of Georgia’s legal culture by examining its use of slave codes and slave patrols, as well as presenting data on crimes prosecuted, trial procedures and practices, conviction rates, the appellate process, and punishment.
Virginia from Secession to Commemoration
Crucible of the Civil War offers an illuminating portrait of the state’s wartime economic, political, and social institutions. Weighing in on contentious issues within established scholarship while also breaking ground in areas long neglected by scholars, the contributors examine such concerns as the war’s effect on slavery in the state, the wartime intersection of race and religion, and the development of Confederate social networks. They also shed light on topics long disputed by historians, such as Virginia’s decision to secede from the Union, the development of Confederate nationalism, and how Virginians chose to remember the war after its close.
Christian Text and Queer Narrative in the Fiction of José Lezama Lima and Reinaldo Arenas
The queer presence that animates and informs the fiction of José Lezama Lima and Reinaldo Arenas, two of the most prominent Cuban writers since the Revolution, nonetheless haunts their work by its absence. Eduardo González draws on the Christian concept of the Fall from grace and the possibility of redemption, on the work of selected Western canonical authors, and on several contemporary films to show how the chosen texts by the two writers both replicate and are enhanced by these sources and illustrate the interplay of word, image, and belief in the story line and moral tale that González develops.
In his new book, Michal Jan Rozbicki undertakes to bridge the gap between the political and the cultural histories of the American Revolution. Through a careful examination of liberty as both the ideological axis and the central metaphor of the age, he is able to offer a fresh model for interpreting the Revolution. By establishing systemic linkages between the histories of the free and the unfree, and between the factual and the symbolic, this framework points to a fundamental reassessment of the ways we think about the American Founding.
Lynching in Mississippi and South Carolina, 1881–1940
From the end of Reconstruction to the onset of the civil rights era, lynching was prevalent in developing and frontier regions that had a dynamic and fluid African American population. Focusing on Mississippi and South Carolina because of the high proportion of African Americans in each state during "the age of lynching," Terence Finnegan explains lynching as a consequence of the revolution in social relations—assertiveness, competition, and tension—that resulted from emancipation. A comprehensive study of lynching in Mississippi and South Carolina, A Deed So Accursed reveals the economic and social circumstances that spawned lynching and explores the interplay between extralegal violence and political and civil rights.
Finnegan's research shows that lynching rates depended on factors other than caste conflict and the interaction of race and southern notions of honor. Although lynching supported the ends of white supremacy, many mobs lynched more for private retaliation than for communal motives, which explains why mobs varied greatly in size, organization, behavior, and purpose.
The resistance of African Americans was vigorous and sustained and took on a variety of forms, but depending on the circumstances, black resistance could sometimes provoke rather than deter lynching. Ultimately, Finnegan shows how out of the tragedy of lynching came the triumph of the civil rights movement, which was built upon the organizational efforts of African American anti-lynching campaigns.
The Cultural Politics of Catastrophe in Latin America
In the aftermath of disaster, literary and other cultural representations of the event can play a role in the renegotiation of political power. In Disaster Writing, Mark D. Anderson analyzes four natural disasters in Latin America that acquired national significance and symbolism through literary mediation: the 1930 cyclone in the Dominican Republic, volcanic eruptions in Central America, the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, and recurring drought in northeastern Brazil.
Taking a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the disaster narratives, Anderson explores concepts such as the social construction of risk, landscape as political and cultural geography, vulnerability as the convergence of natural hazard and social marginalization, and the cultural mediation of trauma and loss. He shows how the political and historical contexts suggest a systematic link between natural disaster and cultural politics.
1848 and the Challenge to American Exceptionalism
Distant Revolutions: 1848 and the Challenge to American Exceptionalism is a study of American politics, culture, and foreign relations in the mid-nineteenth century, illuminated through the reactions of Americans to the European revolutions of 1848. Flush from the recent American military victory over Mexico, many Americans celebrated news of democratic revolutions breaking out across Europe as a further sign of divine providence. Others thought that the 1848 revolutions served only to highlight how America’s own revolution had not done enough in the way of reform. Still other Americans renounced the 1848 revolutions and the thought of trans-atlantic unity because they interpreted European revolutionary radicalism and its portents of violence, socialism, and atheism as dangerous to the unique virtues of the United States.
Representations of Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature
Exploring the prevalence of madness in Caribbean texts written in English in the mid-twentieth century, Kelly Baker Josephs focuses on celebrated writers such as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott as well as on understudied writers such as Sylvia Wynter and Erna Brodber. Because mad figures appear frequently in Caribbean literature from French, Spanish, and English traditions—in roles ranging from bit parts to first-person narrators—the author regards madness as a part of the West Indian literary aesthetic. The relatively condensed decolonization of the anglophone islands during the 1960s and 1970s, she argues, makes literature written in English during this time especially rich for an examination of the function of madness in literary critiques of colonialism and in the Caribbean project of nation-making.
In drawing connections between madness and literature, gender, and religion, this book speaks not only to the field of Caribbean studies but also to colonial and postcolonial literature in general. The volume closes with a study of twenty-first-century literature of the Caribbean diaspora, demonstrating that Caribbean writers still turn to representations of madness to depict their changing worlds.
The Father Reimagined in Faulkner, Wright, O'Connor, and Morrison
In an original contribution to the psychoanalytic approach to literature, Doreen Fowler focuses on the fiction of four major American writers—William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, and Toni Morrison—to examine the father's function as a "border figure." Although the father has most commonly been interpreted as the figure who introduces opposition and exclusion to the child, Fowler finds in these literary depictions fathers who instead support the construction of a social identity by mediating between cultural oppositions.
Fowler counters the widely accepted notion that boundaries are solely sites of exclusion and offers a new theoretical model of boundary construction. She argues that boundaries are mysterious, dangerous, in-between places where a balance of sameness and difference makes differentiation possible. In the fiction of these southern writers, father figures introduce a separate cultural identity by modeling this mix of relatedness and difference. Fathers intervene in the mother-child relationship, but the father is also closely related to both mother and child. This model of boundary formation as a balance of exclusion and relatedness suggests a way to join with others in an inclusive, multicultural community and still retain ethnic, racial, and gender differences.
Fowler's model for the father's mediating role in initiating gender, race, and other social differences shows not only how psychoanalytic theory can be used to interpret fiction and cultural history but also how literature and history can reshape theory.